FEMA to Deploy Federal Services to East Palestine Two Weeks After Train Disaster

This video screenshot released by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) shows the site of a derailed freight train in East Palestine, Ohio, the United States. About 50 Norfolk Southern freight train cars derailed on the night of Feb. 3 in East Palestine, a town of 4,800 residents near …
NTSB/Handout via Xinhua

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will deploy federal services to East Palestine, Ohio, two weeks after the train disaster, Governor Mike DeWine (R) announced on Friday.

“Following further discussions with FEMA tonight, they will be deploying federal resources to East Palestine,” the Ohio governor said.

“FEMA and the state of Ohio have been in constant contact regarding emergency operations in East Palestine,” read a joint statement from Gov. DeWine and FEMA Regional Administrator Thomas C. Sivak that was released on Friday.

“U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA have been working together since day one,” the joint statement continued.

“Tomorrow, FEMA will supplement federal efforts by deploying a Senior Response Official along with a Regional Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) to support ongoing operations, including coordination and ongoing assessments of potential long-term recovery needs,” the statement added.

In a statement released Thursday — before it was announced that FEMA will be deployed to East Palestine — the Ohio governor’s office said it had been in daily contact with FEMA to discuss the need for federal support, but that “FEMA continues to tell Governor DeWine that Ohio is not eligible for assistance at this time.”

Gov. DeWine’s press secretary Dan Tierney told Breitbart News on Thursday that the situation in East Palestine was considered ineligible for a FEMA disaster declaration because — while the train derailment is clearly a disaster — it technically did not involve destruction of property.

The Associated Press

A black plume rises over East Palestine, Ohio, as a result of a controlled detonation of a portion of the derailed Norfolk Southern trains, Feb. 6, 2023. West Virginia’s water utility says it’s taking precautionary steps following the derailment of a train hauling chemicals that later sent up a toxic plume in Ohio. The utility said in a statement on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2023 that it has enhanced its treatment processes even though there hasn’t been a change in raw water at its Ohio River intake. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, file)

“We are ineligible for a FEMA disaster declaration, we’ve been told by FEMA that we will not meet the qualifications at this time,” Tierney said at the time. “And the reason for that is that FEMA disaster declarations are related to property damage, and solely property damage.”

In addition to Friday’s announcement that FEMA will now be deployed to East Palestine, DeWine’s office also revealed that Ohio is setting up a medical clinic in the town this upcoming week “to engage with residents, answer questions, evaluate any symptoms, and provide medical expertise.”

The governor’s office added that in response to a request from DeWine, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be sending federal officials to East Palestine to support the clinic.

The announcement of FEMA being deployed to East Palestine arrives on the heels of it being revealed that former President Donald Trump plans to visit the small Ohio town next week.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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